Olive opposes electricity rezoning

Town councilman Jim Sofranko

Town councilman Jim Sofranko

The Olive Town Board issued a pair of resolutions at its March meeting that address impending changes in the electrical supply system serving Ulster and Dutchess Counties.

The board unanimously adopted a first resolution that firmly opposes the New Capacity Zone (NCZ) scheduled to be imposed on May 1 that groups Mid-Hudson counties with three New York City and Westchester zones, which have vastly larger supply demands than the upstate zones, using 64 percent of the state’s electric resources.

“According to the estimates, this (new zone) would increase ratepayers’ bills by 6 percent to 25 percent,” said Olive Town Supervisor Sylvia Rozelle. She cited a number of groups and municipalities that have formally gone on record against the shift, including the Ulster County Legislature, the New York State Public Service Commission, the Ulster County Association of Supervisors, a swiftly growing number of municipalities (which includes Woodstock’s resolution of February 18) and even Central Hudson-Fortis, which favors an “increased transmission” solution which would phase in the new zone over three years.


Rozelle said the town would be reviewing its own energy budget during the coming year and stressed the large rate hikes of the past season which, between electricity and propane, jumped by over 10 percent generally in the Northeast. Propane costs, which rose 54 percent during the winter despite record high production levels, is an issue coupled with electric supply because its rising stocks due to the hydrofracking boom are replacing coal as an energy source.

The decision to rezone originates at the federal level with the Federal Energy Regulation Commission’s (FERC) plans for restructuring the national electric grid into a “smart” design, Rozzelle observed, along with an order issued last August to the NYISO (New York System Independent Operator), the non-profit corporation established in 1999 to manage the state’s energy supplies. Rozzelle added a note of distaste for the manipulations of “big government.”

FERC, which is self-funded through fees obtained from the companies it regulates, stated it’s purpose was a desire to attract investors in new power plants with increased “price signals” to wholesale energy markets, and capacity levels increased sufficiently to meet the “peak demands” of downstate users along with the creation of a smarter electrical grid.